Team orders rule in Argie rally

2012-04-29 08:47

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - Citroen has told Finland's Mikko Hirvonen not to challenge team mate and race leader Sebastien Loeb for victory in Rally Argentina to ensure the team finishes the event first and second on Sunday.

The drivers were running 1-2 halfway through Saturday's second leg and, in a move that made the outcome a foregone conclusion, the team decided on a “no risks” policy.

Citroen principal Yves Matton said he had spoken to both drivers to ensure eight-times World champion Loeb of France took his 70th race win.


"Sebastien almost went off (on stage nine) and we can't afford to throw away a possible 1-2 which would be a great result for both championships," Matton told the World Rally website. "It's a bit hard on Mikko after what happened in Portugal but I hope he'll be able to stand on the top step of the podium again with us very soon."

Hirvonen was stripped of his win in Portugal, which would have seen him take Loeb's championship lead, after stewards found Citroen had fitted his car with a clutch that did not conform to the rules.

With two stages of the second day remaining in Argentina, Loeb was 7.7sec ahead of Hirvonen. They had been separated earlier in the day by just 2.1sec after ending the first leg just 0.1sec.

Spain's Dani Sordo, driving a works Ford as a stand-in for the injured Jari-Matti Latvala, was third but way back by 1min29.8 adrift of Hirvonen.

Latvala was forced to miss Round 5 of the season after breaking his left collarbone in a cross-country skiing accident while training in his native Finland. He is expected back for the 2012 Rally of Greece in May.

Here’s how the day finished:
1 Sebastien Loeb (France) Citroen 3hr57min40.8
2 Mikko Hirvonen (Finland) Citroen +7.2sec
3 Daniel Sordo (Spain) Ford 1min46.9
4 Mads Ostberg (Norway) Ford 3min06.1
5 Martin Prokop (Czech Republic) Ford 9min22.5
6 Sebastien Ogier (France) Skoda 10min26.7
7 Andreas Mikkelsen (Norway) Skoda 10min31.7
8 Thierry Neuville (Belgium) Citroen 11min48.0
9 Petter Solberg (Norway) Ford 14min08.8
10 Armindo Araujo (Portugal) Mini 14min17.7